Jason Marquis: By the Time He Gets To Phoenix, We’ll Have No Jewish Baseball Players in DC

Shalom Chaver

It wasn’t exactly a shock. On the spectrum of possible events, the prospect of the Washington Nationals trading Jason Marquis, their one Jewish player, fell somewhere between “unavoidable” and “most likely.” And so when word came down on Saturday, just hours before Jason was scheduled to pitch against the New York Mets, that he had been dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a minor leaguer, no one was terribly surprised. After all, he’s a 33-year-old pitcher going into free agency, who is going to want one last big payout that the Nats were unlikely to offer given their bumper crop of young pitching coming-up from the minors. Baseball 101 demanded that you trade this guy and get some possible value for him while he’s still worth something — in this case, a Single “A” infielder you’re unlikely to see down at Nationals Park anytime soon.

Still, as a Nationals fan, I applaud the move.

As a Jew, I wonder: They had to trade him on Shabbos? Right before this kid from Staten Island was going to pitch against the New York Mets? Couldn’t they wait so his mother could shep some naches? Never mind the subtle hint of sending an aging Jew in the twilight of his career to Arizona. Any time your local team happens to have on its roster a Jewish athlete, there is a tribal feeling of pride at the accomplishment — it’s an anachronistic but widespread reaction. And while it is more in-line with the current American Jewish ethos to want your child to become a member of Congress rather than a member of the starting rotation, there’s no denying that Jason Marquis leaves Washington’s Jewish pride in better shape than Anthony Weiner did at his exit.

I enjoyed watching Jason pitch. He was no Sandy Koufax, but he was ours. And now he’s theirs.

Thankfully, G-d never closes one door without opening another. As if in anticipation of Jason’s departure (and hockey season), the Washington Capitals signed free-agent and local-boy-done-good Jeff Halpern to a one-year contract at the beginning of July. So, the region isn’t without a major Jewish athlete — (we’ll see if Jeff opts not to play on Yom Kippur again this year — the press always loves a good Hank Greenberg/Sandy Koufax Day of Atonement Dilemma).

But let me take this last opportunity to wish Jason Marquis “shalom and lehitra’ot.” He’s a good pitcher, and a mensch.

This Week at the 16th Street J

A sampling of program highlights from the upcoming week at the 16th Street J:

Monday, May 19

About The Body7:30 pm–The Screening Room presents: About The Body. When a terrorist attack occurs, the dead are mourned, the calls for vengeance are issued and eventually, the news cycle churns on. But what of those whose lives, whose physical bodies have been forever changed by the trauma? How does a young woman regain a sense of comfort and joy in her damaged body? This extraordinary documentary follows 12 such young women, recovering from injuries sustained in attacks, participating in a movement workshop run by Israeli Prize winning dancer Ohad Naharin. Following the screening will be a discussion with Steve Shafarman, creator of FlexAware™ for movement and healing.

Tuesday, May 20

7:30 pm–Nextbook presents: Amy Bloom. The National Book Award finalist (for her premiere book of stories, Come To Me) and psychoanalyst reads from her most recent novel Away. The final Nextbook event of the season.

Wednesday, May 21

7:30 pm–Introduction to Judaism. One of our most popular classes begins a new 6-week session covering the basics of Jewish ethics, philosophy and observances. If Wednesdays don’t work for you consider the Thursday night session beginning June 5.

Thursday, May 22

6:00 pm–Step-N-Sculpt with Lynda. Memorial Day is around the corner. The beach beckons. Are you ready?

Sunday, May 25

7:30 pm–The Chaim Kempner Author Series Presents: Jewish Major Leaguers. Who have they been? What have they accomplished? And why do we care so much? Featuring: Mark Lerner, Principal Owner of the Washington Nationals, Stan Kasten, President of the Washington Nationals, Dr. Martin Abramowitz, President of Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc., and Aviva Kempner, director of the award-winning documentary The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.

Shabbat Surfing–Go Nats!

NationalsJeremy Burton, writing at J.Spot overreacts to Bush’s “christening” of the new National’s ballpark. Trust us. President Bush notwithstanding, the opening of the ballpark was a giant Bar Mitzvah for the District. The Lerner family, owners of our beloved Nats, have even included a special column dedicated to Jewish slugger Hank Greenberg (a Detroit Tiger) in the new ballpark, plenty of Kosher food options and davening during the seventh inning stretch. This is not to say that there is not a susbtantial evangelical Christian presence in baseball, but not every example of religion in the public sphere need be interpreted as hostile to other religions.

DC’s LGBTQ magazine Metro Weekly has an issue entirely dedicated to queer Jewish life around the coming holiday of Passover. Highlighted in the issue is a feature article about GLOE’s Stonewall Seder which was held this past Sunday at  the HRC. Also given substantial ink is Congregation Bet Mishpachah which meets for services regularly at the 16th Street J.

Have you been over on the Theater J blog? Ari Roth has been at the forefront of reaction to a poll question put out by American Theater Magazine regarding a proposed cultural boycott of Israel (although it’s not clear anyone is currently advocating for one). Ari’s strong response to the ridiculousness of the exercise and the dozens of responses he received in return grabbed the attention of The Forward. The weekly newspaper is featuring the kerfuffle on the front page this week.

We seem to be all over the press this week, with a great write up of the Rapid Responsa in the Washington Jewish Week.

Briefly noted: Virtual Talmud shuts down at beliefnet.com.  The British chief of Formula One auto racing makes Eliot Spitzer look wholesome. Organic Bacon lollipops–both treyf and disgusting. Heeb presents its own zombie film with a NSFW Night of the Living Jews.

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